Friday, June 19, 2020

Romancing Your Summer Reading

For those of us who love reading, these days with little to do are like being given a gift. We don't need to feel guilty curling up in a chair with a good book. Today in My Writing Corner, I am pleased to feature Jana Richards, who has a wonderful new book out that is perfect for when you want to take a break from the outside world. Visit a small town and discover romance. Let's find out more about Jana. 

Have you always wanted to write fiction?
Not always. At one point I considered becoming a journalist. Though I never made that dream come true, I managed to make writing a reality, just in different way.   

What are some of the challenges of being a writer?
There are plenty of challenges: coming up with interesting stories, finding time to write, mastering a multitude of software products. But probably my single biggest challenge is marketing my books. That covers everything from learning how to create Amazon ads to learning graphic design. I find it’s a never-ending job, and not exactly in my wheelhouse. But I’m learning to treat marketing as a creative pursuit to make me feel more comfortable with it. Marketing definitely has a creative component to it. You’ve got to come up with out of the box ideas to make readers sit up and pay attention. I’m still learning!

Tell us about your road to publication.
It was a rather long and rocky road. I wrote for many years before I was published. That was back in the days before ebooks and Amazon. In 2006 a friend suggested I try submitting to her publisher, a brand-new small press that was publishing only ebooks. So I did, and was thrilled when my book was accepted for publication. That sale gave me the confidence to continue writing and submitting, and I’m still going strong today.

How do you come up with your characters?
I usually come up with a premise or situation and then create characters who fit into that situation. For example in my Love at Solace Lake series, the premise is that twenty-two years previously, the Lindquist sisters’ father murdered their mother. I tried to come up with characters who were a product of that childhood trauma. For instance, the oldest, Harper, who was ten when her mother died, has lived her whole life with feelings of abandonment. Middle sister Scarlet lives with guilt, believing something she did caused her mother’s death. Maggie was too young to remember her parents and she feels cheated out of the life she should have had. And in the small town they grew up in, they all live with the shame of being the daughters of a murderer.

How do you come up with your plots?
Lots of things influence plotlines. It might be something I’ve read in the newspaper or see on TV. Sometimes I’ll explore a theme, like trust. I try to come up with plots that allow for a lot of conflict between the hero and the heroine. It’s always exciting to throw obstacles at characters and make them figure out how to overcome them.

Tell us about your latest book, To Heal A Heart.  What made you write it?
I’m currently working on a small-town romance series published by The Wild Rose Press called the Masonville series which is set in the fictional town of Masonville, North Dakota. In these books I’m exploring the effects of heartache, loss and various forms of trauma on my characters. In TO HEAL A HEART, which released June 15, 2020, Garrett Saunders is a former Marine who lost part of his leg in Afghanistan. Blair Greyson has had her share of heartache and trauma in the past. She thinks she’s put it behind her, but the truth is, everything she believes about herself is controlled by what happened to her in the past. She has to come to terms with her history before she can have a future.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?
If writing is what you really want to do, don’t give up. Keep learning your craft by taking classes and going to conferences. Keep reading. And definitely keep writing.

What’s your next project?
I’m currently working on book three of the Masonville series which I’m calling “Unexpected”. Ben and Jamie rush into marriage in order to retain custody of Ben’s stepchildren. To their surprise they discover an unexpected love. But when Jamie has to choose between what she believes is best for the children and her relationship with Ben, their love is tested. Can their new-found family, and their love, survive?

Let's find out more about To Heal A Heart
Garrett Saunders' world changed two years ago on a road in Afghanistan. Back home, he feels like a stranger. As he struggles to find his place in the world, he meets a horse destined for the slaughterhouse and a woman bent on rescuing the strays of the world, including him.
Blair Greyson moves to Masonville to look after her ailing grandfather and give her rescue horses a home. Right away she butts heads with a surly former Marine. Despite a rocky start, they come to an agreement: Blair will board Garrett's rescue horse and he'll help with repairs around her farm.

Garrett finds purpose working with Blair—and falls in love with her. But she's hiding a secret. Can she forgive herself and accept Garrett's love, or will she let guilt and regret continue to rule her life?

Want more?  Here are the buy links:

Barnes & Noble:


 And if you would like to get in touch with Jana:





Amazon Author Page:

Amazon UK Author Page:

Newsletter Signup:



Thank you, Jana, for bringing us some much needed summer reading! Any comments or questions for Jana?

Friday, June 12, 2020

A Blossoming Romance

Summer has always been my favorite time to read -- chalk that up to a small town and my dad putting me to work in the summer time watering the lawn. In those days, we didn't have timed sprinkling systems, so I sat outside on a folding lawn chair in the shade with a good book. Every twenty minutes or so I had to put it down, get up and move the sprinkler to a new spot. Needless to say, sometimes the sprinker over-watered a spot if the book was really good.

Actually, I didn't mind those sprinkling sessions because it meant I also had an excuse to make a weekly visit to the library for several new books to read. My mom also gave me money to stop at the local drugstore for a drink at the soda fountain before walking home. (yes, this was a long, long time ago). 

That experience gave me a love of summer reading and now I get to do it inside sitting on a comfy chair with air-conditioning. Outside, the sprinkling system takes care of  watering the lawn so I have more time to read, and the cold drink is only as far away as the refrigerator in the kitchen. The internet brings me my reading material and author connections have given me new exposure to new books. Instead of searching the stacks, I put in whatever genre I want to read and keep finding wonderful new authors to enjoy and to learn their persosnal stories.  

This week, I am excited to have visiting in My Writing Corner  author Angela Lam. She has written several books focusing on the lives of modern women struggling to find their place in the world. She spent the past three decades writing for newspapers, small press and literary magazines. She tells us her work has included real estate, finance, art, education and nature therapy. She has also received several awards and is the recipient of residencies at Hedgebrook and Vermont Studio Center. 

Welcome Angeles, here did you get the idea for this book?

After a lifetime of being teased for being overweight, I finally decided to write a happily-ever-after for women like me. During a work conference in Georgia, I met a man who later became my best friend. He showed me the flip side of the struggle men face being underweight. With the dual storylines in place, I added several layers to the drama through research into the military, PTSD, alcoholism, sex addiction, and family trauma to create Friends First.

Any advice for new authors?

I sold my first poem in 1985. Publishing has changed a lot since then. Adaptability, persistency, devotion to the craft, daily discipline, and lots of fortitude are necessary to fuel the journey. You will face tons of rejection, dry spells, disappointments, and hard earned victories. Remember why you write and have faith you will find your readers. Define what success means to you, and celebrate your accomplishments. The greatest satisfaction is story well written and well received.  

Angela's news book is Friends First

Maddy Strong doesn’t like to be alone but a weight loss boot camp is not her idea of a good time. Working out and counting calories is a test she’s bound to fail—especially when paired with fitness-focused Greg as a workout partner.

Health-conscious Greg Power is desperate to end his night terrors. While he doubts his therapist’s prescription of exhausting his body and reprogramming his mind he is willing to try anything.

During their workouts they uncover a deep connection. But when their friendship blossoms into love, they discover possibilities neither have ever considered.  Faced with the biggest decision of their lives, who will they choose?

 Social Media Links
Facebook: Author and Artist Angela Lam; 
Twitter: @authorangelalam; 
Goodreads: Angela Lam; 
Linked In: Angela Lam Turpin Gross; 

Anything else you’d like to add: 10% of each sale will be donated to Hope For The Warriors to support military families throughout our communities during this most stressful time.

Any questions or comments for Angela?

Monday, June 8, 2020

Sweet Treats for Summer

Now that it's June, it's time to officially start our summer reading. And what could be better
than a mixture of romance and the sweet taste of ice cream?  That's what we're serving up today in My Writing Corner.  Our guest is author,  Marilyn Baron, who writes in a variety of genres from women's fiction to historical romantic thrillers and romantic suspense to  paranormal/fantasy. She writes in a variety of formats, from short stories and anthologies to full-length novels, including a musical.

Marilyn has received writing awards in Single Title, Suspense Romance, Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, and Paranormal/Fantasy Romance. She was also The Finalist in the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year Awards (GAYA) in the Romance Category for her novel, Stumble Stones, and The Finalist for the 2018 GAYA Awards in the Romance category for her novel, The Alibi. She is a nominee in the upcoming 2020 GAYA Awards in the Romance category for The Saffron Conspiracy: A Novel. 

In addition she is a  public relations consultant in Atlanta, and is immediate past chair of the Roswell Reads Steering Committee and serves on the Atlanta Authors Series Committee.

Marilyn says the idea for her new story came from a past event in her life:

My husband and I traveled to Italy last October. After a visit to Lake Como, we were based in Rome and took day trips to Florence, the Amalfi Coast and Capri. I wanted to return to Florence to visit some of the places I loved while I was attending college there 48 years ago, because I thought I might not have the opportunity again. We took a train to Florence and visited the Uffizi Gallery to see my favorite painting, The Birth of Venus, walked along the Arno River to the Ponte Vecchio and went to my favorite gelato shop, Vivoli®. While eating gelato, my husband asked, “What If you could go back in time and recapture your youth?"

 While I was studying in Florence, I was actually cursed by a gypsy. In this story, a reverse Roma curse transports the sixty-something heroine back in time to her 23-year-old self.

Great! Let's get a sweet taste of her new summer romance:

Kate Buckthorn, a sixty-something woman in a predictable marriage, takes a day trip to Florence, Italy to relive the months spent there as a college art history student. 

After visiting all the familiar sights, she returns to her favorite gelato shop where she tosses some coins into the plastic cup of a Roma looking for change. And change is what is what she gets, literally.

After enjoying her triple-scoop gelato, she leaves the shop, magically transformed into her twenty-three-year-old self.

Does she stay in Florence and have a fling with a gorgeous Italian hottie, pursuing her painting career in the birthplace of the Renaissance? Or does she return to her unfaithful husband as her younger self? What choice would you make?

Let's get an excerpt:

She was running out of time. She would just have a handful of minutes to walk along the Arno River and perhaps walk across the Ponte Vecchio. She loved jewelry and she could spend hours gazing at the shops. There wouldn’t be time to see the David at the Accademia Gallery. She hadn’t thought to reserve a ticket and probably couldn’t get in anyway. It was a good thing Michelangelo’s David was burned onto her brain. She would never forget the magnificent sculpture. By the time she arrived at the river, she realized she had forgotten her cane. Damn, she couldn’t walk without it. But then she had fairly run to the river, without the cane. She scratched her head. How was that even possible? She no longer needed a cane to walk. Her steps were lighter. She felt infinitely lighter, even after that humongous cup of gelato.

She glanced into the mirror of a parked motorcycle and drew back in shock. She could hardly believe her reflection. She was staring back at her twenty-three-year-old face and body, complete with butt-hugging jeans, a form-fitting beige ribbed blouse, and clogs she couldn’t have walked in before she arrived in Florence.

A band of Italian boys surrounded her, shouting, “Ciao, Bella.” What was happening? Was she hallucinating? What was in that gelato anyway? Somehow, that Roma woman or the gelato or a miracle had managed to melt time and transport her back to the Florence of her college days. She recognized the outfit she was wearing from her photo album. Was she having sunstroke? There had to be a rational explanation. 

Intrigued?  If you'd like to read on, here are the buy links: 


The Wild Rose Press Links to other digital outlets:

And if you woul like to learn more about Marilyn and her books, here is her confact information: 

Website/social media contact info:

< Facebook:


Amazon Author Page:

Thank you, Marilyn, for bringing us this sweet treat!! Any comments or questions for Marilyn?

Friday, June 5, 2020

Draw in Your Readers with Hooks & Twists

Today in My Writing Corner, I am turning to my alter ego--the non-fiction writing teacher in me for some advice and thoughts on drawing in your readers.  As we all struggle with quarantine, I know a  lot of writers are using the time to try to catch up on that fiction writing we’ve been wanting to do. I ve given ideas on subjects in the past, but today let’s look at something other than finding topics.  One of the questions, I’m often asked as a fiction writer is, “how do you keep the reader’s interest?”

A couple of tactics that are often used are some of the best parts of any book – hooks and twists.  Once you have your book rolling along you need to keep the reader moving and hooks and twists go a long way toward doing that. By the time you’ve reached the middle of your book, continuing to plot can start to seem overwhelming. We have our captivating beginning, we might even have ideas for some complications with conflict for our heroes, heroines and companions. 

How else can you make the middle come alive? This is the point where so many authors get stuck. Suddenly there seem to be so many directions the story could go and the choices can seem endless. Maybe you’ve hit a block or you know some of the things you want to have happen, but you have no idea now where to place anything. Even worse, the story seems to just be hanging there, going nowhere.

The story may be moving along but it is getting boring. What now? How about a plot twist? Think of those true crime TV shows where the host or hostess promises to “turn the story in a whole new direction.”  Well, that’ what you can do with a plot twist. Once you have established the flow of your book, you’re going to want to break up the flow with action scenes, or if you’ve had too many action scenes, maybe you need to turn your story around with a slower, more thoughtful scene. You don’t want to simply string together a bunch of action scenes. You can afford to take a few breathers every now and then to let your characters react emotionally to what has happened.

It may be time to think about some of that backstory you’ve put off or to provide an explanation of something that might be useful later. As just about any writing instructor will tell you that backstory should not come in the opening pages of the book, but once you have established your story and gotten the plot moving, this might be the time to work in some of that slower back story to give the reader a break in the action and to let the reader think.

We might want to start consider putting in a few scenes that speak to who your character is and why your character is acting in a certain way. By now we’ve set a direction for your character and let the reader in on some of your character’s better personality traits. Now we want to show a little more of who this person is.

You don’t want to drag down your book with too much detail or backstory or make the reader suffer
with a “sagging middle.” What do you do to make the backstory interesting? One way to accomplish that is to  make the scene part of the action. Are there ways you can  show emotional problems through action? Scenes can be on the internal or external level and this provides a good chance to use some of those internal or emotional scenes. What you need to keep in mind is that through this all you still want to keep up the tension and the pace. Don’t just say your heroine had an argument with her father years earlier, show the tension between them. Don’t just say the hero did something years ago, show it through a conversation or a flashback. Let the reader feel the passion of the events that are still being debate or that are still affecting the characters.

There are other ways to engage the reader further and make them want to keep going.  It’s what is called a “hook.”

Hooks are those tiny little surprises that the author constantly throws at the reader to keep them going. They are especially useful in the middle of the book, but they can come in at any time.

Look for them

- At the beginning of the book --sometimes even in the first line to draw in the reader
- At end of a scene so the reader will keep reading  
- At the beginning of the scene to get the reader "hooked" into reading all of the following pages
- As the story begins moving. Often the “inciting incident” is considered a hook.
- At the end of the chapter -- this is where they are used most often in order to keep the reader from putting the book down.                  

Hooks can come in lots of forms. Perhaps your heroine suddenly discovers a family secret such as the fact she was adopted.  Maybe your hero learns the wife he thought was dead is still alive. Put those discoveries at the end of a scene or a chapter and your reader isn’t going anywhere.

 They are going to want to read on to the next scene or chapter. Best selling author Joan Johnston suggests using hooks at the beginning of a chapter  to get the reader into it, and again at the ending of the chapter to keep the reader going. She says a hook can be as simple as a question or a provocative statement.

A plot twist is another way to keep the reader turning the pages. Most plot twists will be considered hooks because they keep the reader wanting more but not all hooks are going to be plot twists. As we’ve noted the hooks are surprises that hook the reader into reading more. Twists, on the other hand, only come several times in a story and they will turn the entire story around. In some cases authors may use only two or three twists -- one at the beginning of the story and another a third of the way in and one two thirds of the way in.

A twist is that moment when the characters change direction.  Twists are also a good way to show your characters. Imagine the meek hero who suddenly turns out to be an excellent marksman. Why? Because he was a sniper in the war. But it’s something he regrets or he doesn’t like to mention. Maybe he killed someone by mistake.  Look at that—we’re getting backstory as we learn about the hero and advancing the plot. Using hooks and twists can do that in your current plot.

These are just some of the sorts of turns in your story that must keep happening as the plot rolls along. Twists and turns can make the story go in new directions and to show who your characters are as they grow so look for ways to use them to keep that plot rolling along.

For more writing tips and ideas, please visit my website: or to check on my fiction work, please visit, or please email me with your writing questions at or

For more writing help, check out my writing series co-authored with Sue Viders:


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Mysterious Doings

As the  summer begins, it is time to start selecting those books we want to take on vacation or for sitting around the pool or at  the beach...